Over 100 Olympians are represented by the ISL, including 41 Olympic gold medals from the 2016
The opening day of the International Swimming League’s match in Lewisville was full of surprises
along with some races going as we could’ve expected.
The London Roar put on a very impressive display, winning 10 times in 19 events, as they hold a
19-point buffer over the LA Current after action wrapped up on Saturday.
Below, take a look at some of the storylines to keep an eye on as we head into Day 2.
Storylines After Day 1
● MVP Race: The race for MVP, which will be awarded to the top point-scorer at the match’s
end, is relatively straightforward for the time being after the opening day. The three
swimmers who won two individual events, that being Vladimir Morozov, Emma McKeon,
and Minna Atherton, are the frontrunners. Morozov has 23 points, followed by McKeon
(22.5) and Atherton (21.5). No one else has more than 20.
It shows us that winning is imperative for MVP. Katinka Hosszu and Michael Andrew, both
known for their versatility and expected to challenge for the title, swam three times
individually but only had one win between the two of them. Morozov is the favorite as we
head into the second day, primarily because he’ll be a huge factor in the skins event (the
three-round 50 freestyle eliminator – 8-4-2 – worth triple the points of a regular event).
Neither McKeon or Atherton are expected to compete there with sprint freestyle specialists
Cate and Bronte Campbell on their club.
● Atherton A Surprise Star: With so many big names competing in Lewisville, the 19-year-
old Atherton emerged as an unexpected star on Day 1. Her win in the women’s 200
backstroke was incredibly quick, making her the sixth-fastest swimmer in history, as she
dominated multi-time Olympic medalists Kathleen Baker and Hosszu by a wide margin.
She then won the 50 back, and had a fast split on the 4x100 free relay. She’s one to watch
out for on Day 2 as she’s poised to win the 100 and sweep the women’s backstroke events.
● Morozov’s Breaststroke: Seeing Morozov atop the leaderboard for MVP isn’t a surprise,
nor is him swimming the 50 breaststroke. But him going out and actually winning the event
was, as he was facing a strong group of pure breaststrokers while he primarily focuses on
the freestyle events. In the first two matches we learned that you need to be able to win
events in two different strokes to earn MVP, and the 27-year-old Russian now appears well
on his way.
● Andrew Has Tough Workload: As mentioned above, Andrew was expected to be one of the contenders for MVP given his wide range of ability, but he labored on Day 1 under a heavy workload. He had a solid showing in the men’s 100 butterfly, placing fourth, but then had just about five minutes before he was back in the water in the 50 breaststroke. That’s one of his better events, but he only finished seventh. His NY Breakers club may look to lighten his load and keep him fresh for the skins race on Day 2, where he has a great chance to come out a winner.
● Tom Shields Thrives In This Format: American butterfly specialist Tom Shields has had a bit of a rough go the last few years after winning Olympic gold in Rio, but has proven that he’s back with a strong performance for the LA Current on Day 1. Shields, a multi-time NCAA champion, is a short course specialist, and proved it with a win in the men’s 100 fly, the top fly split on the men’s medley relay, and one of the faster legs on the men’s free relay. The ISL could very well give him a bit of a career revival.
● Watch Out For Chalmers: If there’s one swimmer to watch out for on Day 2, it’s Kyle Chalmers. Chalmers, another one of the Australians on the London Roar, is known as a 100 freestyler with a bit more endurance than the pure sprinters (he has the ability to race up to the 200). But his swim in the 50 free on Day 1, finishing just 0.03 seconds behind Morozov, leads one to believe he’s in for a big performance on the second day. He’s going to have a very close race with Morozov in the 100 free, and then will be a huge problem for everyone in the skins. About the ISL: The International Swimming League is a global professional swimming competition launching in 2019 with teams in both Europe (Italy-based Aqua Centurions, France-based Energy Standard, Hungary-based Iron, and London Roar) and the United States (Cali Condors, DC Trident, LA Current, NY Breakers).
The inaugural season will include matches in Indianapolis IN, Naples ITA, Lewisville TX, Budapest HUN, College Park MD, London GBR, and the championship finale at the 12,000-seat Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, NV. The ISL aims to create groundbreaking projects, in both form and content, exploring the full potential of competitive swimming while securing sustainable commercial growth in the sport.
Key Dates: 5-6 October 2019 – IU Natatorium, Indianapolis, USA 12-13 October 2019 – Aquatic Swimming Complex, Naples, Italy 19-20 October 2019 – The LISD Westside Aquatic Center, Lewisville, Texas, USA 26-27 October 2019 – Duna Area, Budapest, Hungary 16-17 November 2019 – Natatorium at the Eppley Recreation Center, Maryland, USA 23-24 November 2019 – London Aquatic Centre, Great Britain 20-21 December 2019 – Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas, USA ISL
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